The first accuser in the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell has said she had repeated sexual contact with Jeffrey Epstein when she was 14 years old – and that the British socialite was there when it happened.
The woman, known by the pseudonym Jane, took to the stand for the second day of the trial in New York on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Epstein‘s long-time pilot told the trial that Prince Andrew was among the high-profile men to have used the disgraced financier’s private jet.
A prosecutor asked the first accuser how old she was when she first had “sexual contact” with Epstein.
In a quiet voice, she responded: “Fourteen years old.”
Asked if there was ever anyone else in the room when there was sexual contact, she replied: “Ghislaine Maxwell.”
She said the sexual interactions were “very casual” and “like it was no big deal.”
The accuser told the court she received a $2m (£1.5m) payment from a victim fund setup by the financier’s estate.
She said Maxwell instructed her on how to give Epstein sexual massages and sometimes physically participated in the encounters as well.
Epstein said he would like to mentor her and was interested in music and dance, Jane told the trial.
She said she didn’t understand the relationship between the two and was not sure if they were married, friends or if Maxwell worked for him.
The abuse would happen once every two weeks when she was aged between 14 and 16 and she travelled with them 10 times to New York and Santa Fe, jurors were told.
Key points of the trial so far:
• Jurors are told Maxwell and Epstein were “partners in crime” and “she served up young girls” for him to abuse
• Prince Andrew named among high-profile men to travel on Epstein’s private jet
• Charges involve four alleged underage victims and multiple locations between 1994 and 2004
• Defence claims Maxwell has been used as a “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes
US prosecutor Lara Pomerantz said during opening statements on Monday that Maxwell and Epstein met Jane in 1994 at a summer camp when she was 14.
Epstein introduced himself as a donor interested in funding her education but ended up sexually abusing Jane, she told jurors.
Epstein’s former pilot Lawrence Visoski also gave evidence before Jane took to the stand.
He said the 59-year-old Maxwell was Epstein’s “Number 2” in his hierarchy of operations.
The pilot also said that Prince Andrew – who was friends with Epstein – travelled on the American financier’s jet.
Mr Visoski said he was often contacted by Maxwell,who would charter flights for Epstein and often flew with him on his private planes.
Asked about the relationship between them, Mr Visoski said Maxwell was “the Number 2” and Epstein was “the big Number 1”.
He also told the trial that Mr Epstein would regularly fly to Ohio for meetings with his friend Lex Wexner, the billionaire owner of Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Mr Visoski was providing what lawyers call foundational evidence on which they will build their case with further evidence from the four alleged underage victims.
However, under cross-examination he was not able to remember whether “Jane” or the three other alleged victims had flown on Mr Epstein’s planes.
He told the court he never saw sexual activity or signs of it, such as sex toys or condoms, adding he also never saw anyone who he believed was underage, saying “they looked like mature women”.
Mr Visoski claimed to remember meeting another alleged victim, Virginia Roberts, in the “mid to late 90s”.
“She was on the airplane a couple times,” he said. “I couldn’t guess the quantity.”
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The pilot described Maxwell as the disgraced financier’s office assistant, but said that their relationship appeared to be “more personal than business”.
He said he had access to all of Epstein’s residences – both in Florida and New York to “pick up luggage”.
Mr Visoski also flew a helicopter for him “many times” and recalled that he was unable to see passengers flying on his private planes because the doors to their compartments were “always closed”.
But when asked he said he “never saw any sexual activity”.
Maxwell’s defence lawyers claim she has been used as “scapegoat” for Epstein’s crimes.
The convicted paedophile killed himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August 2019 while awaiting further sex trafficking charges.
The trial continues.
Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Who are the alleged victims and what are the charges?
What are the charges?
The former girlfriend ofJeffrey Epstein is facing a total of eight charges – including six counts of enticing minors and sex trafficking over a 10-year period.
The charges involve four alleged underage victims and multiple locations over a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004. The youngest alleged victim was 14 years old at the time.
Maxwell also faces two counts of perjury which will be tried separately.
She denies all the charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Maxwell could be sentenced to 80 years in prison if found guilty of all counts.
What does Maxwell say?
“The charges against Ghislaine Maxwell are for things that Jeffrey Epstein did, but she is not Jeffrey Epstein,” Maxwell’s
defence lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, said in court on Monday.
Maxwell has said under oath she did not “recall” whether Epstein possessed sex toys, and also claimed she was unaware of Epstein having sex in the 1990s and 2000s with anyone apart from her, and two women with whom they had threesomes. Maxwell also denied ever giving anyone a massage.
In her opening statement on behalf of Maxwell, her lawyer Ms Sternheim said: “Ever since Eve has been blamed for tempting Adam with an apple, women have been blamed for things men have done.”
She insisted that Maxwell is “not anything like Jeffrey Epstein”, adding that he was the “proverbial elephant in the room”.
“Yes, Jeffrey Epstein manipulated the world around him and the people around him, including Ghislaine,” Ms Sternheim told jurors, adding: “Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial as a scapegoat for Epstein.”
Ms Sternheim said the case was about “memory, manipulation and money” and argued that the four alleged victims of Epstein have received multimillion-dollar payments from a settlement fund set up by his estate, and have changed their stories over the years.
Who are the accusers?
Alleged victims of sexual abuse in the US are not automatically entitled to lifelong anonymity as in the UK. However, the judge in the Maxwell trial has decided that all four alleged victims will be able to use a pseudonym or just their first name. Judge Alison Nathan said this would avoid press intrusion and personal embarrassment.
• Alleged Victim 1 – (1994-1997)– New York and Palm Beach, Florida
The first was about 14 years old when, according to prosecutors, she first met Maxwell. The defendant is accused of grooming the young woman by taking her shopping and to the cinema, normalising abuse by undressing in front of her, and being present and involved in some of Epstein’s abuse.
• Alleged Victim 2 – (1996) – New Mexico
The second was under 18 when she was flown to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch at his invitation, prosecutors claim. They argue Maxwell knew the woman was under 18 and groomed her with shopping and cinema trips, and by discussing her school classes.
• Alleged Victim 3 – (1994-1995) – London
Maxwell is accused of befriending the third alleged underage victim in London, and grooming her by asking about her life and family. Prosecutors claim Maxwell introduced the woman to Epstein and encouraged her to give him massages, knowing that this would result in sexual abuse.
The location of the alleged abuse is not in the United States, but under US law crimes committed outside the country can be charged within it if the victim or victims are American citizens. Therefore, it is presumed the third alleged victim is an American citizen.
• Alleged Victim 4 – (2001-2004) – Palm Beach, Florida
The fourth alleged victim lived in Florida and prosecutors claim she was about 14 years old when she was recruited to give Epstein sexualised massages for money at his Palm Beach mansion. Maxwell is accused of grooming her by asking about her family, and normalising the abuse by discussing sexual topics and being present when the alleged victim was nude in Epstein’s massage room.
The Epstein-Maxwell relationship
In a 24-page indictment published earlier this year, the US government claims that Maxwell was in an “intimate relationship” with Epstein between 1994 and 1997, and that for a longer period (1994-2004) he paid her to manage his properties.